Can non-citizens get NEXUS?

Explore the eligibility of non-citizens for the NEXUS program. Learn how to apply, requirements, and the benefits of NEXUS for immigrants and permanent residents. Expedite your border crossings and enjoy hassle-free travel with NEXUS.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Eligibility for NEXUS: Only lawful permanent residents of Canada or the U.S., and certain Mexican nationals under the Viajero Confiable program, can obtain NEXUS. Non-citizens from other countries can only apply if they are permanent residents of the U.S. or Canada.
  2. Criteria for Approval: A successful NEXUS application requires a strong case, a logically compiled explanation, and supporting documents. Misrepresentation can lead to a lifetime ban from obtaining a U.S. visa.
  3. Impact of Travel Bans: The U.S. travel bans from 2017 affected the NEXUS membership of permanent residents from certain countries. Passports from countries with limited visa-free travel, especially those with security concerns, may face challenges when applying for NEXUS.
  4. Temporary Status Holders: Refugees, student visa holders, and work visa holders are ineligible for NEXUS until they achieve permanent resident status. Non-resident citizens may apply but might face a longer application process and need to justify their need for a NEXUS card.

The only non-citizens who can obtain NEXUS are lawful permanent residents of Canada or the United States.

Mexican nationals who are also members of Viajero Confiable are also eligible to apply for NEXUS. Under Mexican Nationality law, a Mexican citizen is a Mexican national who is also 18 years or older and who has “an honest way of living.” Seeing that no minimum age is required for the Viajero Confiable program, this means that Mexican nationals under the age of 18 can also join NEXUS.

By the strict definitions of Mexican citizenship, these nationals under 18 remain only Mexican nationals and not citizens, in the sense they aren’t yet full citizens. It would be untrue, however, to call Mexican Nationals under 18 non-citizens.

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Non-citizens of any other country are eligible for NEXUS only if they are American or Canadian permanent residents.

H2: Can permanent residents apply for a NEXUS card?

Yes, as mentioned, American and Canadian permanent residents can apply as long as they meet the other requirements for eligibility including:

  • A clean (or expunged) criminal record
  • No violations of immigration, criminal, agricultural laws
  • Are admissible to both Canada and the U.S.

H2: Can a green card holder apply for a NEXUS card?

Yes. A green card holder is a lawful American permanent resident and is entitled to apply, as long as they meet the other eligibility requirements listed above.

However, as the result of travel bans enacted in 2017 involving citizens of mostly Muslim-majority countries, some green card holders had their NEXUS membership revoked if they had passports from those countries. We explain further just below.

H2: Non-citizen permanent residents and the worst passports in terms of NEXUS

The U.S. is visited by people from around the world. Canada, like the U.S. attracts immigrants from around the world. So, when thinking of passports strength in terms of applying as a permanent resident to NEXUS, the worst passports are generally those that show up on at the bottom of recognized global passport lists – like Henley’s.

As mentioned above, the U.S. enacted travel bans against a number of countries – many of them Muslim-majority – in 2017 causing permanent residents of the U.S. and Canada to lose their NEXUS membership if they were citizens of those countries.

Not all the bans were identical – some only prohibited applying for permanent residence, in the case of Nigeria, while others were eventually dropped in the case of Iraq. These are the countries that were affected:

CountryType of travel ban
ChadProhibited entry to nationals of Chad. Removed April 2018
EritreaRestricted immigration visas only.
IranSuspended most immigrant and non-immigrant visas
IraqProhibited entry to all nationals. Lifted in March of 2017
KirgizstanRestricted immigration visas only.
LibyaRestricted all nationals – the restricted business and tourist visas
MyanmarRestricted immigration visas
NigeriaSuspended new immigrant visas that could lead to PR visas
North KoreaSuspended entry for all non-immigrant visas
SomaliaSuspended entry for immigrant visas but not non-immigrant visas
SudanBanned diversity lottery visas but not non-immigrant visas
SyriaSuspended entry for immigrants and non-immigrants
TanzaniaSuspended diversity lottery visas but not non-immigrant visas
VenezuelaSuspended various visas of government officials
YemenSuspended entry for immigrant and non-immigrant visas


Now let’s compare this list to the worst countries on the latest Henley Passport Index which measures the number of countries a passport offers visa-free travel to:

  • Ethiopia
  • Nigeria
  • Eritrea
  • South Sudan
  • Iran
  • DR Congo
  • Lebanon
  • Sri Lanka
  • Sudan
  • Bangladesh
  • Kosovo
  • Libya
  • North Korea
  • Nepal
  • Palestine
  • Somalia
  • Yemen
  • Pakistan
  • Syria
  • Iraq
  • Afghanistan


As you can see, many of the same countries appear in both lists. In other words, if your passport offers visa-free travel to very few countries, and the country has security problems, you may very well find it harder to apply to NEXUS even given the fact that you are already a permanent resident of either Canada or the U.S.

H2: Frequently Asked Questions

H3: Are refugee eligible for the NEXUS program?

You have to be a permanent resident, so until your status changes from that of a refugee, you will remain ineligible for NEXUS.

H3: Do non-citizen spouses of citizens qualify for NEXUS?

If the spouse is a lawful permanent resident of Canada or the United States, then they qualify. If their spousal sponsorship application is still being processed, they remain ineligible.

H3: Can student and work permit holders apply for NEXUS card?

No. A study visa or a work visa are temporary visas, and the holders of these visas are not permanent residents.

H3: Non-resident vs citizen when applying for a NEXUS card.

If you are a non-resident and not a citizen, then you most likely are not a permanent resident. In this case, you do not qualify for a NEXUS card.

The only possibility for you to even qualify as a non-resident is if you are residing temporarily in another country but already have permanent resident status. To maintain your permanent resident status, however, you would have to return to Canada or the U.S. within a given period of time.

Given all this, it would clearly be a longer application process with more documentation required in order to apply for a NEXUS card.

If, however, you are a citizen who is a non-resident then the application might be a little quicker, but CBP and CBSA officers would want to know why you need a NEXUS card. If you are a citizen who is a non-resident but travels frequently to either Canada or the U.S. or both countries, it would be reasonable for you to apply to the program. Your application process will be a little longer and you will likely have to provide additional documentation as a non-resident.

Riley Haas
Riley Haas
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